Claim of Romney taxes theft a puzzling question looming

Claim of Romney taxes theft a puzzling question looming

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By STEPHEN BRAUN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The purported theft of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's tax returns has all the trappings of a high-tech whodunit: a politically themed burglary, a $1 million demand in hard-to-trace Internet currency, password-protected data and a threat to reveal everything in three more weeks. But can it be believed?

The Secret Service was investigating the case Thursday after someone claimed to have burglarized a PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting office in Franklin, Tenn., and stole two decades' worth of Romney's tax returns. Authorities are studying computer thumb drives that were delivered with an unusual demand: a $1 million payment in hard-to-trace "Bitcoin" Internet currency.

The plot in this mystery could be a hoax, but it surfaces at a critical moment during the 2012 presidential campaign amid the Republican and Democratic conventions.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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